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Tools for Navigating Change

tools for change

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been sharing about the change process as I have personally experienced it. Though my change journey began in earnest back in 2014, this year is when I learned just how much change sucks and what it takes to navigate my way through.

In part one of this blog series, I talked about the 5 stages of change. You can read about those in detail here. For a quick review, they are The Event, The Emotions, The Exploration, The Enlightenment, and The Embracing.

As I considered the stages, I started thinking about the tools that supported me as I moved through each of them. This is by no means an exhaustive list, I’m sure there are a few things I’m not remembering. But here are the tools I turned to over and over again while navigating change in my life.

Truth-Telling

Always tell yourself the truth, even if you’re lying to everyone else.

These words are on my Life Manifesto, my personal set of guidelines for how I want to move through the world. I put them on there because I remember the day I finally accepted that the life I was living was not working for me.

The truth of it had been slowly emerging in my soul but I kept pushing it away because on my paper my life looked good. I owned my own home, had a successful career and a solid network of friends. Despite it all, I was profoundly unhappy.

The day I was able to admit the truth to myself, my soul felt the first pangs of liberation. I would keep the truth to myself for a long time, telling only a handful of people whom I truly trusted. Eventually, I would have to say the truth to more people but it started by admitting it to myself first.

Real Community

Throughout my change journey, my community of friends proved to be lifelines for me. I’ve been in spaces where community is encouraged but it’s only surface level. There is no real sense of belonging.

To move through change you need friends who can hold space for you and your emotions as they show up. You need a place where you can be honest (there’s that truth-telling thing again) and know you will be met with kindness and compassion.

My friends did this for me over and over again, which made it easier for me use this next tool more readily. 

Risking Vulnerability

Having that sense of real community helped me to risk being vulnerable. I am intentionally calling this out as its own tool because it was one of the game changers for me.

I don’t do vulnerable. I’ve had too many instances where my vulnerability was met with shame from people who I thought loved and cared about me. But to my earlier point, what I learned was their love was only superficial, dependent on me doing what they felt was right for me.

When I hit bottom, they revealed the truth about themselves.

One by one, the Divine brought new people into my life that proved to be safe places. I could speak my truth and they would meet my vulnerability with love and understanding.

There was NEVER a hint of shaming and each instance helped me to risk being more vulnerable.

I now know my safe people. Having them in my corner these last few years, especially this past year has been one of the greatest gifts in my life. I had to risk being vulnerable to gain that support and it made all the difference for me. 

Spiritual Practices

I’ve mentioned before that my faith is an important part of how I move through the world. One of the most difficult changes I moved through was changing faith traditions.

That journey deserves a post all on its own and someday I will write it. For now, what I will say is that navigating that change in faith traditions expanded my spiritual practices exponentially.

I leaned into a lot of things to support me. Among them, journaling, meditating, and saying mantras to get me out of the negative loop in my head.

I was also out in nature more, finding God among the trees, learning the rhythms of Mama Gaia and gaining a deeper appreciation for the cycles of the moon.

Each of these practices, in different ways, grounded me as I faced the instability of all the changes.

Counseling/Coaching/Therapy

At different points along the way, I had the support of therapists, priests, coaches, and counselors. No man is an island and though I like to think I can do it all on my own, I’m smart enough to know that’s not true.

There is a saying that goes when the student is ready the teacher will come. Each professionally trained person who supported me came at the right time. When I needed their specific skillset they were there and it made all the difference for me.

Let me say here that connecting to the right support is important. Not one of the people who I talked with tried to steer my path for me. They simply held space as I navigated the journey in front of me.

They also didn’t try to rescue me from what I was feeling. Each of them, in their own way, let me be exactly where I was without judgment or expecting me to move along faster. This was a profound gift for me.

Practicing Surrender

I said earlier that I spent a lot of time out in nature learning from the trees. Every year they surrender their leaves with absolute trust that come Spring the leaves will return. I was a control freak so this practice of surrender has been hard for me.

But I learned that my sense of control was all an illusion. I have had to surrender that illusion.

I’ve had to let go of needing to know what’s going to happen. Instead, I get to trust that everything is unfolding exactly as it should.

It’s not always easy but one of my favorite mantras helps a lot, it’s all rigged in my favor 🙂 

Your Turn

I had other tools that I used including learning to pray differently and being with my emotions rather than running from them. I could go on but this post is already longer than I thought so I’m going to stop here.

Now I want to hear from you. Did any of these tools resonate with you? Are there tools you rely on when dealing with change? I’d love to hear. Tell me about it in the comments below or email me at makeda@makedapennycooke.com to share your thoughts.

As always, here’s to you being equipped for change and rising into your greatness.

From my heart to yours,

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